• Classroom Information




    National recognition was brought to the instrumental music program when Norbert J. Buskey became director of the Clarence High School Band in 1962.  Mr. Buskey established the present Wind Ensemble, began the Annual Concert at Kleinhans, commissioned composers for new works, and brought guest artists such as Warren Benson, Carl “Doc” Severinson, Harvey Phillips, Vaclav Nelhybel, Lionel Hampton, Clarke Terry, and Roy Burns to share their talents.  Under his direction, the band performed numerous times at the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) Conference, the Music Educators National Conference (MENC) and the Midwest Band Clinic (1966).


    Ronald A. Sutherland took over the Wind Ensemble in September of 1971 after a two year period where Gary L. Good was the conductor.  During Mr. Sutherland's 25 year tenure as conductor of the Wind Ensemble the following conductors and composers graced the Clarence High School stage:  The Free Design, Urbie Green, Donald Hunsburger, Vaclav Nelhybel, Karel Husa, Siguard Rascher, The Rascher Quartet, Allen Vizzutti, Frank Erickson, The Dallas Brass (Rhythm and Brass), William C Willett, Joseph Wincenc, Donald Schleicher, and Carl St. Clair.  The combined Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band (Michael J. Ried- conductor) performed at International Festivals in Aberdeen, Scotland and London, England in 1976.  In 1990, the combined Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, and Chorus (Robert Vehar-conductor) were invited to perform at International Festivals in Graz, and Salzburg, Austria.


    In 1996, William Eicher became the ensemble’s fourth conductor.  Following in the traditions established by his predecessors, Mr. Eicher guided the ensemble into the 21st century.  By performing a wide range of demanding repertoire from original works to quality transcriptions the ensemble and audiences have been exposed to great compositions of various eras.


    Under Mr. Eicher's direction the ensemble has continued to perform at major conventions including the New York State Band Directors Association (2005), Midwest Clinic (2003 & 2009), New York State School Board Association Convention (2001), New York State School Music Association Winter Conference (1999), and presented a clinic on repertoire at the 2000 NYSSMA Winter Conference.



    At the beginning of the 2016 school year, Louis Vitello was appointed as the fifth conductor in the ensemble’s fifty plus year history.  Under the baton of Mr. Vitello, the CHS Wind Ensemble performed at the 2018 ACBA National Convention premiering Stephen Melillo's In the Darkest Darkness, and Ark of the Covenant.


    The Ensemble has commissioned and premiered many new works for wind band.  These include, Persis Parshall Vehar’s Bright Phoenix Ascending (2003), Warren Benson’s Still Dancing (2002), David Gluck’s Bailamos (2002), Ron Nelson’s Night Song: Homage to Howard Hanson (1998), Robert Jager’s Festival of Winds and Percussion (2015),  and Stephen Melillo's In the Darkest Darkness & Ark of the Covenant (2018).


    The CHS Wind Ensemble has maintained the tradition of working with guest artists.  During the past twenty years, they have hosted such notables as:


    • Composers:  Warren Benson, Mark Camphouse, Thomas Duffy, David Gillingham, David Gluck, Robert Jager, David Maslanka, Stephen Melillo, Ron Nelson, Michael Pratt, Persis Parshall Vehar, and Michael Vertoske


    • Conductors:  Frank Battisti, Harry Begian, Frederick Fennell, Michael Haithcock, Donald Hunsberger, Tim Lautzenheizer,  Edward Lisk, Anthony Maiello, Stephen Peterson, Charles Peltz, Jeffrey Renshaw, Mark Scatterday, John Whitwell, and Rodney Winther.


    • Soloists:  Laura Aikin, Jim Akins, Mark Babbitt, Mary Karen Clardy, Robert Dilutis, Mark Fisher, Karen Futterer, Ken Futterer, Fredonia Woodwind Quintet, Alex Jokipii, Peter Karau, Mark Kellogg, Alice Lenaghan, Jim Pyne, Arturo  Sandoval, Donald Sinta, James Thompson, Brad Wong, Central Michigan University Percussion Ensemble, Eastman Horn Choir, Eastman Saxophone Project, Rhythm & Brass, and Atlantic Brass.


    The Clarence Bands have also made several recordings with Mark Custom Recordings of Clarence.  The longevity of success the Clarence Music Program has experienced can be attributed to the outstanding music faculty, the commitment and hard work of students, the support and encouragement of parents, the school administration, the Board of Education and the Clarence Community.

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